The ‘survival’ of community pharmacy and general practice are ‘dependent’ on one another, a local commissioner has said.
Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum conference on the future of pharmacy services yesterday (20 November), James Roach told delegates that it will be essential for pharmacies and practices to work together in the face of ‘significant’ workforce shortages.
Mr Roach, programme director for integrated care at NHS West Essex clinical commissioning group (CCG), said: ‘There’s a real opportunity now for community pharmacy and general practice to develop a more proactive clinical relationship and a more pragmatic business relationship as well.
‘The survival of each is dependent on the other.’
In April, NHS England guidance stated that non-GP providers such as community pharmacy will be ‘essential’ to the delivery of services in the new primary care networks (PCNs) – local groups of GP practices serving roughly 30-50,000 patients across England.
Collaboration with non-GP providers like community pharmacy will be a contractual requirement for PCNs from 2020, the guidance added.
A ‘saviour’ for PCNs
Ravi Sharma, director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), told delegates that community pharmacy could be a ‘saviour’ for PCNs in providing solutions to many of the challenges they face.
He said: ‘The [PCN] model doesn’t work unless [community pharmacists and PCN pharmacists] work together collaboratively and try to think of ways to do things differently.
‘Workload pressures are not going to go down within general practice.’
There is a ‘huge opportunity’ for community pharmacy to support PCNs with the delivery of services, Mr Sharma added, for example in delivering structured medication reviews (SMRs) within networks, which have replaced medicines use reviews (MURs) delivered in pharmacy.
In May, NHS England said that pharmacy contractors could deliver some parts of the GP contract service specifications within PCNs, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) early detection and prevention and awareness of cancer symptoms.